February 11, 2013

Interview - Mikhail Bortnik (Mishka)

Mikhail Bortnik Mishka

Mikhail Bortnik, the founder of the revered fashion brand Mishka, lives on a quaint street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn—a neighborhood that used to be full of Polish immigrants and is now most famous for being whereGirls is shot. When I visited his home on a frigid day in January, I wasn’t surprised to find that the Russian-born and Brooklyn-raised artist and businessman has an immaculate but uniquely decorated apartment. Even though Mikhail shares his home with his wife Kate, whom he met on Makeoutclub, and two rambunctious cockatiels named Louis and Milo, the vibe in his crib is all his own. Obscure B-movie horror posters adorn the walls, priceless actions figures are positioned in action poses on shelves overhead, and a meticulously organized library of comics stretches from the floor to the ceiling. I felt like I was in a pop-culture museum, or maybe inside the head of a geek with impeccable taste.

Mikhail was such a gracious host that before I could even take off my coat he had already offered me a drink. The ink-haired bear of a man handed me a beer and we sat down to talk. I took a sip and we started to chew the fat, but before we could get good into our conversation, my mind began to wander. I was vibing on the angular jazz music playing in the background so hard, I interrupted him to find out who the hell we were listening to.

“Oh, that’s Roy Ayers,” he said. “I listen to a lot of music and I get bored easily. I have to discover new things to get interested and involved in. The past month I've hit that point I thought I'd never hit, where I said to myself, ‘I'm going to discover jazz.’ ”

It was clear to me, sitting in a home bursting with so many different cultural artifacts from my childhood, that here was a man who’d spent his entire life rifling through a succession of youthful obsessions, from G.I. Joes to punk rock. But one of his passions had turned into something more than another collection piled high in his apartment, and that was streetwear. Why streetwear? Maybe because to Mikhail, as he later told me, it represented “being 16 forever, a permanent adolescence.”

Read the rest of the interview at Vice.com.